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23 Survey Background The synthesis report team developed a survey questionnaire to learn more about transit agency and related government entity practices for bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improve- ments. The survey topics and questions were based on a knowledge of practices identified during the literature review, focusing on the goals and priorities for pedestrian improvements, agency roles in various aspects of the programs, relationships with other public and private entities, tools and data for prioritizing improvements, ADA and equity considerations, and program funding mechanisms. The survey was developed in Qualtrics, reviewed by the topic panel, and refined to essential topic areas. The final survey is included in Appendix A of the report. Agencies Surveyed The study team emailed the survey and an invitation to participate to 65 transit agencies and other local and regional government organizations that, based on the literature search, operate bus stop improvement programs or initiatives. The team also took into account the agencyâs regional location and relative size or service to create a diverse sample. The list of invited survey participants was expanded to 68 agencies over the course of the survey. Some agencies referred the study team to other agencies in the region or metropolitan area with a more direct role in bus stop improvements. Most survey respondents are either transit agencies that provide service directly or departments within city, municipality, or county governments. Other types of respondents include regional transportation authorities, state DOTs, councils of governments, metropolitan planning organizations, and community centers. The survey respondents are from various larger or medium-sized metropolitan areas and small urbanized areas around the United States. None of the responding agencies is in an entirely rural area although some respondents also deliver service in counties in rural transit districts. Of the invited transit agencies, 63 email recipients clicked the survey link from either the initial email invitation or the follow-up email. Five agency recipients opted out of completing the survey. Of the recipients, 59 provided some level of response, which included some duplicate responses from the same agency or incomplete information. After cleaning these responses out of the data, 47 usable responses were left, with 44 responses fully complete and 3 responses mostly complete. Practices in Bus Stop and Pedestrian Infrastructure Improvements This section summarizes the results of the survey questionnaire from all respondents. The full question-by-question results of the survey are included in Appendix C. Respondents were asked whether their agency operated its own program or participated in another agencyâs C H A P T E R 3
24 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access program. All survey respondents have their own improvement programs, and 30% of those also participate in another agencyâs program. The following sections summarize additional information about each agencyâs programs, roles, and relationships to other programs. Scope of Bus Stop Programs Improving bus stop accessibility is the most desired outcome for transit agency programs, as nearly all respondents (96%) chose this answer. Other program goals and desired outcomes with frequent response rates include improving customer support, improving safety and security for customers, and responding equitably to community requests for amenities and improved access (all cited by more than 80% of the survey respondents). Figure 4 shows the results of survey Question 7 on desired agency outcomes. Agency planning departments lead bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure programs for the majority of the agencies (64% of respondents). Capital improvement departments or project management offices also frequently serve as program leads (more than 30% of respondents). According to the survey, many other transit agency departmentsâsuch as maintenance, facilities, operations, and community outreach departmentsâplay supporting roles in the bus stop improvement programs. Figure 5 indicates the responses to Question 9 on department roles in supporting the programs. Respondents that mentioned other departments with a lead role specified examples such as customer experience, engineering, equity and ADA coordination, hired contractor, transit development, project management, and streets departments. Bus Stop Infrastructure Elements Most bus stop elements are considered for only a portion of the bus stops in the system. The landing pad represents the only element that most transit agencies (55%) identified as Figure 4. Responses to Q7 (Which of the following was a desired outcome in your agencyâs program?).
Survey 25 included in the program for all or most of the bus stops. In contrast, 38% and 28% of agencies identified sidewalks/pathways and curb ramps, respectively, as part of most or all bus stops. The results suggest that agencies attempt to provide systemwide pedestrian and ADA access to and at bus stops more than any other bus stop improvement. For elements included at some bus stops in the agencyâs system, shelters, benches or other seating, and lighting options were selected by 60% of the survey respondents. Fewer respondents indicated that crossings and curb ramps are available at some bus stops, indicative that the location of these elements in the right-of-way often falls outside of the control of the transit agency. Figure 6 shows the responses on the survey question about bus stop and pedestrian elements included in improvement programs. Tools and Processes Bus stop inventory data are the most-used data and tool for transit agencies tracking bus stop conditions, as indicated by 96% of the respondents. Other data or characteristics frequently employed by transit agency respondents include fixed-route onboard and offboard ridership data (89%), anonymized customer home location data (89%), and proximity to community services (77%). Some transit agencies also report using requests from customers or public constituents, safety data, or competitive applications to track bus stop conditions. Figure 7 graphs the survey responses on the data and tools used to measure bus stops for improvements. Fixed-route ridership is the most commonly selected measure (83%, or 39 respondents) and is ranked as most important for bus stop prioritization (28 respondents), followed by customer complaints (79%, or 37 respondents). Transit agencies frequently use other data or characteristics for prioritization (66% of respondents), including problems observed by Figure 5. Responses to Q9 (Which department within the organization contributes to the bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement program?).
26 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access Figure 6. Responses to Q17 (Indicate which infrastructure elements are included in your transit agencyâs bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvement program.). Figure 7. Responses to Q18 (What kinds of data or tools do you use to measure importance and prioritize improvements of bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure elements as part of the program? Please check all that apply.).
Survey 27 operators and staff members, bus stops with the worst conditions, and adjacent land uses (such as senior centers, hospitals, and schools). Figure 8 displays the options used and their rank for prioritization of bus stop improvements, showing that the current use of bus stops represents the primary driver in making improvements. Factors accounting for worst condition, customer complaints, and route type were ranked second by eight respondents each. Agreements with Local Entities Out of 46 agencies responding to the question on agreements concerning improvements, 17 (37%) reported no agreements while 29 (63%) cited one or more agreements related to improvements. Some agencies shared examples of agreements and information on the divi- sion of responsibilities between the agency and the other party. Examples of agreement types include master multiple use agreements with state DOTs and counties, performance resolutions with state DOTs, funding for transit infrastructure with cities, interlocal agreements with cities, agreements for installation and maintenance with private entities, and shelter match agreements with private businesses. The agreements typically assign to the transit agency the responsibility of design, construction, installation, and maintenance of bus shelter facilities and immediate landing pad areas. Master use agreements allow the transit agencies to conduct construction work for bus shelters and turnouts in public rights-of-way, including allowance of ingress or egress for the transit agency while indemnifying the public partner regarding liability. Performance reso- lution agreements with state DOTs allow the transit agency to hire contractors for bus stop infrastructure installation on state rights-of-way while assigning responsibility and liability to the transit agency. Agreements for funding support for shelter and infrastructure costs with a city give the public partner rights to oversee construction and input on site selections, while setting forth specific cost threshold terms that the public partner will provide, per bus stop, for a set of bus stops, or by calculated funding mechanisms. Agreements with cities for fund- ing support may combine funding mixtures for bus stop improvements, with either the city paying the full cost for specific shelters or a match agreement existing between the city and 1 2 3 4 5 Fixed-route ridership 28 5 1 2 2 Worst condition 4 8 4 3 5 Observed problems by operators / staff 3 5 4 6 5 Space available 3 1 4 6 2 Customer complaints 2 8 8 10 3 Other infrastructure projects 2 4 5 3 3 ADA 2 0 0 0 0 Adjacent land uses (senior centers, hospitals, schools, etc.) 1 4 4 7 5 Route type (e.g., high-frequency or network connective routes) 0 8 6 2 0 Bus stop study priority list 0 1 0 0 0 Costs 0 0 4 2 2 Street or bus corridor type 0 0 3 0 1 Paratransit ridership 0 0 1 0 1 Bus network redesigns 0 0 0 1 1 Options that are being used for bus stops prioritization Ranking Number of Respondents Figure 8. Responses to Q19 (How are improvements for bus stops prioritized? Rank the options that you are using.).
28 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access transit agency. Similarly, match agreements with private businesses have terms for costs to the business partner and assign the risk of further costs to the transit agency. Responding agencies detailed a total of 49 agreements. Table 2 lists the improvement desig- nations by percentage of the total number of agreements reported in the survey. Shelters and benches (84% and 76%, respectively) are most often the responsibility of the transit agency. Partners most frequently hold responsibility for improvements in sidewalks and pathways (47%), crossings (45%), and curb ramps (47%). Both entities share responsibility between 20% to 27% of the time for lighting, sidewalks and pathways, crossings, and landing pads in the examples provided. For 68% of survey respondents, limited right-of-way represents the key issue for transit agencies in working with developers and including agency interests in developments and construction, followed by the existing slope of sidewalks and pathways requiring extensive construction or reconstruction, cited by 38% of the respondents. Other write-in responses for key issues include competition for space with neighboring landscaping and businesses, incorporation of bus stop improvements in the development or permit review process, early contact (before construction), available funding and developers paying for improvements, lengthy construction time periods, surveys and legal requirements, and ongoing maintenance of new infrastructure. Figure 9 shows the results of the question on key issues when transit agencies work with developers. Communication and Coordination Of the survey respondents, 68% rank community meetings as the most frequently used communication method for receiving comments and feedback from the community. Website announcements (or portals) and workshop events are commonly used as well. Responding agencies also share information on improvements through postings at bus stops and inter- sections and through website announcements. Many respondents employ community meetings to share information. Transit agencies also rely on social media, customer service calls and emails, and public board meetings and minutes in their communication efforts. Figure 10 depicts the responses to the survey question on how agencies receive feedback and share infor- mation about bus stop improvements. Transit Agency Partner Entity Both Shelters 84% 8% 8% Benches 76% 8% 4% Landing pad 53% 16% 20% Rear-door areas 51% 12% 12% Lighting 45% 20% 24% Sidewalks and pathways 14% 47% 27% Crossings 14% 45% 20% Curb ramps 27% 47% 12% Detectable warnings 22% 35% 10% Bus stopping pad in roadway* 6% 0% 0% Signage* 0% 0% 2% Federal grant funding* 0% 4% 0% Right-of-way permitting* 0% 2% 0% *Added as a write-in option under the âOtherâ selection. Table 2. Responses to Q24 (Does the entity in the agreement with the transit agency assume responsibility for making improvements to any of the following bus stop or pedestrian pathway elements? Please check all that apply.).
Survey 29 Figure 9. Responses to Q27 (What are key issues in working with developers and inclusion of transit agency interests in developments and construction? Please check all that apply.). Figure 10. Responses to Q28 (How does the transit agency communicate the following information? Please check all that apply.).
30 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access Most survey respondents (87%) coordinate bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improve- ment projects (such as street reconstruction, utility upgrade, trail, or sidewalk projects) to coincide with, or piggyback on, other infrastructure projects. In addition, 74% of the respon- dents coordinate with utility companies or private development projects to enhance bus stops and pathways. Specific practices for coordinating with other improvement projects include the following examples, based on the survey responses: â¢ Land-use planning practices, site plan reviews with cities, and/or development reviews with state DOTs â¢ Coordination with private developers during the permitting stage of the application to implement improvements during their project â¢ Requirements for contractors and private development projects to upgrade adjacent and connecting bus stops, widen sidewalks, or make ADA clear-path improvements as a part of capital projects as a condition of approval â¢ Collaboration with transportation departments conducting the road improvements once they are scheduled â¢ Collaboration with developers on making stops accessible and providing shelter foundations or custom shelters where warranted â¢ Identification of the overlaps between private development interests and agency plans and guidelines (e.g., new major employment sites, medical facilities) â¢ Improvements that accompany street reconstructions, such as concrete bus pads in the street, physically accessible sidewalks at bus stops, and pedestrian refuges, which improve the ability to safely cross streets â¢ City requirements for new developers to contact the transit agency to work on coordinating improvements ADA Accessibility and Equity Nearly all survey respondents (98%) receive and act on feedback about bus stops from community organizations focused on persons with disabilities and on seniors, and 72% of respondents have an ADA transition plan (a formal publicly available document outlining the public agencyâs ADA compliance) that considers bus stops and pedestrian infrastructure. Survey respondents identified broken or incomplete sidewalks as the most challenging infra- structure issue for persons with disabilities, indicating that barriers in the pedestrian pathway and a lack of curb ramps present challenges. Some respondents also reported issues such as a lack of easements or right-of-way, limited budgets to make improvements, constrained physical space at bus stops, missing safe crosswalks, and steep boarding pad slopes. Figure 11 lists the respondent rankings of infrastructure issues for persons with disabilities. A total of 38 respondents provided information on how their agencies ensure equity in improvements throughout the service area. The responding agencies use Title VI equity and transit-dependent analyses or civil rights plans to consider the placement of improvements. Factors for improvements can be based on demographics such as minority, low-income, and limited-English-proficiency populations. Several agencies incorporate a social equity compo- nent or factor as part of their prioritization methods to drive more bus stop improvements toward marginalized areas. Transit agencies also interact directly with riders by conducting surveys to gather information on equity needs or by responding to feedback and requests for improvements from customers and stakeholders. Funding Considerations About half of the survey respondents (51%) identified general local contributions from the municipality or county as the typical funding source for improvements; business contributions
Survey 31 or specialized sources (such as rental revenues or advertising) finance improvements less frequently (11% and 9%, respectively). Other examples of funding sources for bus stop improvement projects include federal formula funds, state funds, local general funds and capital funds, Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement (CMAQ) program funding, Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs), bonds, local foundations, property taxes, and private developer funds. Infrastructure Investment Benefits Survey respondents noted observed program benefits such as positive effects on fixed-route ridership, paratransit ridership, operating cost per trip, area business activity, and customer complaints about amenities and access. For survey respondents that indicated an effect on fixed-route ridership, 44% reported that the improvements led to increased ridership. Other examples of observed effects resulting from bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improve- ments include significant enhancements in pedestrian safety at bus stops and some progress in issuing public notices about bus service. Challenges in Improvement Programs Agency experiences in implementing improvement programs are described as more positive in terms of coordinating with other transit operators that use the same bus stopsâ83% of survey respondents confirmed no problem at all, and none characterized it as a major challenge. Nearly three-quarters of the responding transit agencies (71%) stated that the establishment of design criteria does not present a major challenge. However, respondents cited major chal- lenges such as the availability of funding to make improvements (37%) and the capability to measure the benefit of completed improvements (33%). In addition, most transit agencies view working with developers and private property owners as either a slight problem or a major challenge (80% combined). Coordinating with other jurisdictions that hold the right- of-way at neighboring bus stop pathways also typically poses some level of challenge for transit agencies. Survey respondents were split in their opinion of the challenges arising from coordinating within their own agency on improvementsâaround half indicated no problem while the 1 2 3 4 5 Broken/incomplete sidewalks 25 9 5 5 1 Barriers in the pedestrian pathway 11 9 18 5 2 Lack of curb ramps 4 18 12 2 9 Missing/incomplete shelters 3 3 4 13 17 Missing/lack of seating areas 1 3 3 19 16 Other 1 3 3 1 0 Infrastructure issues from a user perspective for persons with disabilities using fixed-route transit Ranking Number of Respondents Figure 11. Responses to Q33 (Please rank the following infrastructure issues from most challenging to least challenging from a user perspective for persons with disabilities using fixed-route transit, based on your agencyâs understanding.).
32 Transit Agency Relationships and Initiatives to Improve Bus Stops and Pedestrian Access other half acknowledged at least a slight problem. Transit agencies report mixed experiences in gathering and managing inventory data as well as ensuring the equity of improvements in all reaches of the service area. Lessons Learned Transit agencies understand the importance of realizing the scale of large improvement projects, designating roles and staff time to manage projects, standardizing improvements, and maintaining familiarity and working relationships with contractors. Each bus stop location entails particular issues that need to be addressed individually, and conditions at the bus stop or in the connecting pedestrian infrastructure can change rapidly. Staff members devoted to managing and monitoring bus stops focus on maintenance that simplifies the bus stop improvement process and keeps maintenance activities as a high priority for the transit agency. Furthermore, transit agencies determine responsibilities for the improvement of specific elements near the bus stop to help coordinate such upgrades with the responsible agencies. When improvements are undertaken, a single contractor can provide greater familiarity with the transit system and design standards, more efficiently obtain materials from the transit agency, and enable the agency to less frequently solicit bids for improvements. Index processes can be useful in applying consistent data methodologies for making improvements and in determining where improvements should be made based on transit use and measured need. Improvement and maintenance of the pedestrian infrastructure are shared responsibilities between the transit agency and other local and regional governmental departments. Collabora- tive efforts with other local agencies extend improvements beyond the immediate bus stop area. Communication channels and relationships with contacts at city, DOT, and metropolitan planning organizations are productive in establishing bus stop improvement priorities. Working with other local agencies during infrastructure improvement projects and coordi- nating with local road projects can lower the cost of upgrades to bus stops and offer transit agencies a supporting role in the permitting process for local development that affects bus stops. Although working with local businesses and property owners frequently is challenging, conversations with these groups early in the process can help the transit agency learn about their concerns, discuss how the transit system can deliver benefits, and receive input on bus stops to develop community buy-in. Transit agencies might consider developing memoranda of understanding (MOUs) with private developers to minimize risk concerns and to establish funding for required amenity improvements. The process for installing a new bus stop should incorporate scheduled time for initial and iterative feedback from residents and local authorities. Notifying affected residents in advance about a new bus stop or improvement allows time to work with these parties before the installa- tion occurs. During systemwide redesigns or branding changes, ample time is needed to inform, educate, and obtain feedback from the general public before approving the final design of the system improvement. Because funding poses a persistent challenge for transit system improvements and mainte- nance, it is important for the agency to establish a dedicated funding source for bus stop and pedestrian infrastructure improvements. Federal and state funding sources represent depend- able revenues that can be designated for these improvements. Working with municipalities to communicate the importance of such improvements can also generate support for regular or intermittent local funding for improvements while making citizen feedback an inherent part of the process. Bundling smaller projects from multiple agencies can coordinate funding programs, creating larger and more competitive applications and leveraging local matching dollars.